Renee Zellweger would really appreciate it if everyone would stop talking about her face. The 47-year-old actress has been the subject of media scrutiny over her appearance for years. Now as she prepares to break her six-year hiatus from Hollywood with the release of Bridget Jones’ Baby, Zellweger is once again dealing with the comments and questions about her appearance.
In the new cover story for The Hollywood Reporter, Zellweger is questioned about aging in the industry.
"I've never seen the maturation of a woman as a negative thing," Zellweger said. "I've never seen a woman stepping into her more powerful self as a negative. But this conversation perpetuates the problem. Why are we talking about how women look? Why do we value beauty over contribution? We don't seem to value beauty over contribution for men. It's simply not a conversation."
THR’s writer described the actress as being more guarded after having previously interviewed Zellweger on two other occasions, adding “I felt like she was mentally vetting her every word before speaking.”
But Zellweger had plenty of friends and co-workers come to her aid. Her Bridget Jones’ Baby co-star, Patrick Dempsey, slammed the idea of judging female actors based off their appearances.
"She should not have to face such scrutiny," he said. "Hollywood can be unsparingly brutal — and it's always worse for women."
Jones scribe, Helen Fielding, agrees, adding, "Increasingly, we inhabit a world where the external — beauty, fame, thinness — is celebrated more than being human, warm and kind. It's great that Bridget seems to have a following amongst young teenage girls. I hope [the character] helps them remember that being a good person is more important than having a big handbag and a bottom like two snooker balls."
Zellweger has taken her return to the big screen very seriously, brushing up on her perfected British accent and shadowing a producer on Good Morning Britain to get into character. Her British co-star, Colin Firth, remains impressed.
"I'm always a little thrown by her American accent — sounds like she's putting it on," Firth said. "We were at a junket last week, and it was the first time I'd heard her speak in her real voice in a year. It's crazy how committed she is to the character."
In fact, Zellweger beat out actresses like Kate Winslet, Tilda Swinton, Elizabeth Hurley, Helena Bonham Carter, and Rachel Weisz for the coveted role back in 2001.
"We never ever, ever, ever considered casting someone else," Eric Fellner, co-chairman of Working Title, said of the upcoming sequel. "When I think of Bridget Jones, I think of Renee, and when I think of Renee, I think of Bridget Jones. Renee and Bridget are synonymous. It's not like James Bond or some other franchise."
Bridget Jones’ Baby hits theaters on Sept. 16.